1. What is an internship?
  2. Why intern?
  3. When should I start looking for an internship?
  4. I've developed a list of companies for which I want to intern. Now what do I do?

1. What is an internship?

An internship:

  • Is on-site work experience that is either directly related to your major field of study or your career interest.
  • Is an extension of what you have learned in the classroom.
  • Offers the opportunity to apply what you have learned in the classroom.
  • Provides you with the real-world experience you will need to successfully attain a full-time job in your field.
  • Alerts you to the skills employers demand of prospective employees.
  • Is a meaningful, well-supervised part-time learning experience.
  • Allows you to test out possibilities by exploring your interests and using your skills in a professional environment.
  • May be paid or unpaid, may or may not offer academic credit.
  • May include opportunities in the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors.
  • Offers employers fresh ideas to creatively respond to real business problems.
  • Gives you invaluable opportunities for networking.
  • May result in a full-time employment offer.

2. Why intern?

Today interning is on most college students' to-do list. Why? Mostly because academic advisors talk about their importance; career counselors point out that employers are looking for them on students' resumes; and parents ask about them when visiting colleges with their children.

Yet, many students do not really know what an internship is, or why an internship experience can be beneficial to their academic and professional development.

The National Society for Experiential Education defines an internship as “a carefully monitored work experience in which an individual has intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what he or she is learning throughout the experience. Students can do internships with for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Intern positions can be paid or unpaid. When the internship experience is paired with an academic course, students can receive academic credit for the learning that they demonstrate through their work.

Students benefit from internships because they provide opportunities to:

  • Apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real work experience.
  • Find out how to prepare for a career in a certain field.
  • Determine an appropriate career path.
  • Build a strong resume.
  • Develop a network of professional contacts for future opportunities and references.
  • Learn which workplace skills they need to develop.
  • Find out what to expect when making the transition to a full-time job.

Companies benefit from internships because:

  • They are a great way to bring in talented students to contribute to the organization’s goals and mission.
  • Interns provide additional support and increase an organization's workforce.
  • Internships allow experienced professionals the ability to share their skills and cultivate the next generation of leaders in their field.

3. When should I start looking for an internship?

Start early. Finding an internship is a process, not just a search. In general, it is best to start looking for an internship the semester prior to your desired start date.

Certain industries, such as financial services and consulting, conduct their recruiting well in advance of the start date. Many of these organizations have resume collection deadlines by the end of the Fall Semester and conduct their interviews at the beginning of the Spring Semester for Summer or the following Fall internships.

Other industries post internships and collect resumes during the semester before the start date (e.g., during the Spring Semester for a Summer internship.)

Other companies post their internships as the need arises, anytime during the year.

4. I've developed a list of companies for which I want to intern. Now what do I do?

Now is the time to develop good job search tools:

  • Search the company websites to see if their internships are listed online.
  • Call the companies and ask what internship opportunities are available.
  • Research the companies. Try to find to whom you can send an inquiry.
  • Network. Ask everyone you know to help you find contacts at the companies.
  • Write a customized cover letter to each contact and enclose your resume.
  • Make an appointment with the LAS Internship Program.